What's the best way to help the homeless? Former homeless people share their advice
By Katie Dowd
By Katie Dowd
"I was homeless a few years ago for a couple months. I was quite lucky in that I was very resourceful and street smart as well as clean and sober. I slept on the beach sometimes and in an underground parking lot other times. I eventually figured out the shelter system and that helped me get better access to food and resources. I remember getting help with free food like day old bread and free fruit/sandwiches etc as well as free clothes and I was grateful for all of it.
"What I remember most though are the people who saw past the mental illness, past the skittish, scared girl and into the human being underneath. The hotel clerk who let me charge my phone and gave me free coffee, no strings attached; the police officer who told me about shelters instead of writing me a ticket; and the shelter worker who chatted with me about some silly show on tv.
"I always remember those people and when I now work with homeless and disadvantaged people I always look for their humanity even when it is hard to find."
"When people ask homeless what do you need, they are thinking about objects, things like hats, sock and gloves or any other things useful in routine life. These objects make a small difference," one user wrote. "But the most important things are not objects. Things that make most impact and helps someone are non-objects. Dignity. Kindness and understanding. Encouragement."
Related article: 1.6 million children living in the US